Flash Required to view this area.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Introducing the badass headshot. This is a headshot that is reserved for bosses. It conveys only one clear and simple message: I am a badass.  It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, everybody wants to hire a badass. Available in Billings Montana only at Paul Bellinger Photography. www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

This portrait has been a labor of love and it turned out badass if I may say so myself. Zak and I put about two months into learning this lighting technique and we fine-tuned it in the studio over six sessions. Thanks to Kenneth Jarrecke for challenging us to master this light. Thanks to all of the people that posed during test sessions, we will drop those portraits here on the blog as they are ready. Thanks to Zak for putting in hours and expertise on this. We’re going to keep pushing and raising the bar for portraits and headshots in Billings Montana.

Tips for photographers:

This photo was inspired by the portraiture of Marco Grob, after Kenneth Jarrecke showed me some of Grob’s work on twitter and sort of challenged me to light like Grob. Specifically this photo is inspired by a portrait that Grob made of Robert Downey Jr., because a lot of people say Zak looks like him. After a lot of hours studying Grob’s work, what we learned was more than just a lighting setup, it is a framework for working with the light that can be versatile. The idea is to add shadows to the highlight side of a Rembrandt, closed loop lighting pattern. Using a black piece of foam core as a flag, we put a shadow on the highlight side of the face, camera right in this case. You can also add a flag above to put a shadow across the forehead as well, something I wish we had done. It sounds very simple, one light, one or two flags to add shadows, and you can add kicker lights on the back side as we’ve done here too. But the trickiness comes in with the main light and the flag, and how close and at what angle to use the flag to add shadow right where you want it. The further the flag is from the light, the harder the shadow will be. You can also change the shadows by moving the main closer or farther from the subject. We prefer bringing the main light very close so that there is a dramatic falloff on the shadow side the highlights are very soft from the close light. For this photo we used a large, 7x1 foot strip box about two feet from Zak’s face. We used a pair of beauty dishes behind and on each side of the subject at 45 degree angles to create the edge lighting (also called rim lighting or backlighting). But the portrait looks cool without those extra lights and you can use reflectors instead of beauty dishes for a more subtle edge (click here to see a portrait without kicker lights, also inspired by Grob). Once you understand the basic framework it’s easy to experiment from there and adjust for the specific subject in front of you.

Monday, June 29, 2015


This is one of my favorite portraits of my wife and myself! I am such a lucky man, Nini is definitely my better half. I am also lucky to have so many great photos of my wife and I, and many of them are printed so that we will always have them. This is one that we are definitely going to print. It was taken at the Comedy BeCause event put on by the Center for Children and Families. I set up a portrait studio on location at the VIP party before the comedy show, and made portraits of the distinguished guests. Trevan Hiersche assisted me for the day and made one for us after the event was over. Thanks for all of your help, and mostly, for this photo Trevan!

This was a really cool event and making portraits on location was a fun way to give back to the VIP guests who helped make the show possible. I don’t think most people were used to seeing an actual portrait studio on location and the portraits turned out amazing. I’ve been doing this kind of VIP portrait studio on location a few times recently and it has really been a big hit with guests.

Tips for photographers:
This photo is lit with two large softboxes stacked on top of each other to the camera left and in front of the beautiful couple about 5 or 6 feet. There is a large 4x8 foot reflector camera right, also about 5 or 6 feet in front of the lovely couple that is isn’t really doing much in this photo. It is giving a very small amount of fill light on the shadow side of the faces. I’ve used this lighting technique before, click here for more information. On a non-lighting note, it was really crazy shooting a bunch of portraits on location at an on going event. This was not my first time doing this kind of studio on location, but it was the most busy and tightly packed event that I’ve done it at. Time and space were very limited. I had to keep it small and simple and having Trevan assisting me helped a lot too. I highly recommend trying this at some smaller events before attempting it at a big event. We pulled it off because we had a good team with my wife Nini helping out too, but it was not easy.

Billings Montana portrait photographer Paul Bellinger specializes in modern, stylish portraits classic tradition of the great masters of portrait photography. Please visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com to schedule your sitting.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Laddoo is one of my favorite people in India. He is a barber that has been cutting my wife’s family’s hair for three generations now. I met him during my first trip to India and have seen him on every visit since. He always comes over to the house and gives me a fresh cut, shave and massage. It is traditional for barbers in India give really great head and shoulder massages after cutting your hair. Laddoo even cracks my neck as part of the massage, which is kind of scary, but it has always made my sore neck feel better. On our latest trip to India I asked Laddoo to pose for a portrait since he is a very important person to me in my wife’s hometown of Hazaribagh. I also made a surprise visit to see his barber shop and made a portrait of him and his brothers in their space. Of course Laddoo being so generous, he had to give me another trim and massage (I think there is some footage on instagram if you follow @pjbellinger). Before leaving Hazaribagh I had several prints made of all the different people I made portraits of, and I delivered them to each one in person. There is something special about giving and receiving prints. Prints create a connection that is missing when you only deliver electronic files. In this case it was a nice way to say thank you and farewell until next time.

Tips for photographers:
These are the photos that make all of the hard work worth it. They are special photos that can happen in the blink of an eye if you are on your game. For the portrait of Laddoo by himself, he posed for less than two minutes before he was on his way. I scoped out the white wall on previous days and knew it would be lit up nicely in the afternoon sunlight. I put Laddoo in direct sunlight coming from camera left. Since half of his face is in shadows, we call this split lighting, which I really like because of the contrast. The whole front of the house and driveway were lit up with sunlight in front of Laddoo to create nice catchlights in his eyes. The portrait of Laddoo and his brothers was created during a bright sunny day with a single speedlight held by my little sister in the back of the shop to create rim light, or backlight on the subjects. Because the speedlight is all the way in the back of the room it has the effect of lighting the whole room. It’s a lighting technique that is somewhat overused but is a fast and convenient way to add a bit of drama to an otherwise natural light environmental portrait.

I am portrait photographer Paul Bellinger, and I have an unmatched passion for the art of portraiture. I have put many years into the study of everything about portraiture, from the timeless classics by the great masters of generations past, to the leading portrait artists of today. My hard work and dedication has paid off and my portraits are increasingly being sought after for magazine covers and editorial features, and I have on set experience with large-scale fashion, celebrity and sports photo shoots. I specialize in dramatic studio portraits of individuals from headshots and professional business portraits, to fashion and glamour.

Saturday, June 6, 2015


Kalli and Bridger’s big day is only one week away and I’m excited to start celebrating with them this week as the bridal party arrives for bachelor and bachelorette parties, a bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, the wedding, the day after brunch, and finally a honeymoon session at Disney World! It’s going to be a busy week of celebration and I can’t wait to photograph all of it!

Before things get too hectic I want to share a few photos from our cliff side adventure in Maui Hawaii. Kalli and Bridger are Montanans, so they had no problem getting up before sunrise, driving 30 minutes North to the rocky coast and hiking to this location that I had pre-scouted a few days before. The rocky shore is really beautiful with waves crashing everywhere and crazy cliffs. This place is known as “the blowhole,” named after a hole in the rocks that shoots water into the sky when waves crash below. But we were there to see the beautiful seascape at sunrise and waves crashing behind a heart shaped hole in the rock. Mother nature rewarded our hard work and we have these amazing photos to remember the even more amazing experience we had. We got lost hiking back to the Jeep but that’s another story!  See more of our Maui adventures by clicking here.

I specialize in making heirloom quality wedding artwork that is as unique as your love story. I am based in Billings Montana, but I am available for romantic adventures worldwide, including engagement sessions, weddings, and honeymoon sessions. From the beaches to the mountains, it would be my honor to photograph your wedding in any destination. www.paulbellinger.com

Friday, May 29, 2015


I’ve been spending some time in the Beartooth Mountains, and I’m getting excited for mountain weddings this summer! The weather is still too cold and unpredictable for typical mountain weddings, but more daring brides and grooms are already tying the knot in the mountains of Montana. Personally I can’t get enough of the mountains no matter what time of year it is or how bad the weather might be. Thanks to my awesome clients, I’ll be in the mountains a lot in the next few months with mountain engagements and weddings throughout the summer. Stay tuned for a lot more mountain action on the blog soon!

This photo is an outtake from a bridal fashion editorial I did last spring in the mountains with an outstanding team led by Katie Bennett and Cassie LaGreca.  Billings Montana is so lucky to have these awesome ladies raising the bar for all things weddings, floral, and design.  Full credits below.

Photographer: Paul Bellinger
Model: Hayley Anderson 
Styling: Cassie LaGreca Better To Gather Events
Flowers: Katie Bennett Mac's Floral
Hair and Makeup: Kendra Halvorsen
Rentals: Party Time Plus
Assistant: Kaushik "Babu" Mukherjee

I am Montana wedding photographer Paul Bellinger.  I specialize in dramatic, fine art wedding photography that you would be proud to call your first family heirloom.  I shoot weddings large and small, from the beaches to the mountains, and it would be my honor to photograph your wedding.  Please visit www.paulbellinger.com for more information.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


We’ve had a lovely cool and rainy streak this mid-May and it’s created some beautiful conditions in the mountains. Snow is possible pretty much all year around in the Beartooth Mountains, especially at higher elevations, so I wasn’t surprised to see a light dusting of snow and frost on the foothills of the Beartooths outside of Red Lodge Montana.  It made for a magical scene with cold and foggy conditions in the mountains, obscured by clouds, while the lower meadows are a lush green, complete with grazing cattle.  Montana is sure beautiful!  We can’t get enough of it!

Tips for photographers: This photo was made next to Highway 78 North of Red Lodge with a 135mm lens on a full frame Sony A7ii body. Montana makes for easy pickings sometimes, you just have to pull over and that’s about it. I prefer a longer lens for my “side of the road” landscape photography because it allows you to isolate a more narrow scene and eliminate distracting foreground elements that you otherwise can’t control because you’re stuck on the road and can’t hike up closer to search for the perfect foreground.  So I tend to compress the foreground with a longer lens, either my 135mm or 70-200mm.  The 135mm is lighter and smaller so it’s almost always in my bag.

I am Billings Montana wedding and portrait photographer Paul Bellinger.  Please visit www.paulbellinger.com for wedding and portrait bookings.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Kaylee is one of the coolest and most confident people I’ve met since moving to Montana. She’s from Roy Montana but that hasn’t hampered her fashion sense or her taste in rap music (like me), which is something of a rarity in Montana. She’s a natural and a knockout in front of the camera, so we had a blast in the studio jamming to our favorite rap tunes. Roy Montana must be a special place because everyone I’ve met from Roy is awesome.  Thanks for rocking your shoot Kaylee! You are so badass!  Stay tuned for more from this shoot soon.

Tips for photographers: This was a fantastic shoot. Kaylee brought a confident, badass energy that was refreshing. From picking her clothes, to posing, she’s on point. It was inspiring for me, so the shoot went great. The first photo is lit with a single bare strobe with a 7-inch reflector. This light is about 12 feet a way so it lights up everything evenly with little falloff.  It’s a very hard light from such a small light source placed so far away, so the shadows are very sharp, as you can see under her nose and on the wall behind her. The light was directly in front of Kaylee but I moved to her right to create the angle, which you can judge by the shadows.  I normally use this lighting technique on my white wall and it lights the white very nice and evenly. This was my first time using this setup on my black wall and I like it.

I am dedicated to raising the bar for portrait photography in Billings Montana. I’m working hard in the studio, constantly refining my techniques so that my team and I can always create modern, stylish portraits that make a timeless impact.  Visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com to schedule a portrait sitting.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


One of the perks of being an artist is hanging out with other artists. I was lucky to meet artists Troy and Coila Evans not long after moving to Billings at an Art Walk event. I went to a show featuring the work of two local photographers, and Troy’s work was there also. My wife immediately loved his work, and meanwhile I noticed Troy was the only person in the room with a beer. So I inquired about the beer and he offered me one out of his personal stash. We’ve been friends ever since! But I’m also a big fan of Troy’s work (my wife has great taste) and it is an honor to photograph it from time to time. Here are two of my favorite pieces that I photographed from Troy’s recent solo show at Catherine Louisa Gallery. The portrait of Troy was taken after the Art Walk a week after his opening. Several photographers and a few other artists were having a little after party at my studio and of course we couldn’t help but turn on the strobes and have some fun.  See and purchase Troy’s work here: http://blockhorsedesigns.com

Tips for photographers: This portrait is something that happened on the spur of the moment but was about a month in the making.  A month before this portrait happened, my friend and mentor Ken Jarecke turned me on to the portrait work of Marco Grob.  I was impressed with Grob and studied his work for weeks, trying to decipher his lighting techniques.  I watched as much BTS material as I could find, and enlisted the help of my good friend and lighting expert Zak Jokela.  When it was time for the Art Walk to come around I knew there was a good chance we’d have a crowd of notable subjects in the studio afterwards for a night cap.  So right at the start of Art Walk I met Zak at the studio and set up the basics of the lighting and tested a few shots.  We didn’t want to miss the parties, so we left in a hurry, hoping we might have subjects later.  Our plan paid off, and after an evening of wining and dining in art galleries, we had a late night crew assembled in the studio.  Zak and I tinkered with a few other photographers posing for us and quickly honed in the lighting technique we wanted to run with.  After that we just played around all night while everyone was having a good time.  I am so thankful to have friends like Zak, Troy, and others that love to experiment and push each other to new heights.  Meeting and hanging with these other artists is one of the highlights of my life as a photographer.

This portrait is lit with one light, a large 4 foot silver bounce umbrella camera right for a dramatic side lighting effect. See the catchlight in the eye and shadow under the nose for an idea of the angle and placement. The highlight on Troy’s right side was created by a large 8 foot silver reflector behind and camera left from Troy.  Further shadows were introduced by Zak holding a flag (anything that blocks the light, also known as a gobo, or “go between”) close to the left side of Troy’s face so that his ear and shadow are shaded from the main light. This flag is the key touch that we learned from Marco Grob and it has opened my eyes to new world of flagging for dramatic effect.  Thanks to Zak for helping me figure it out!

I love portrait photography and have a passion for portraiture that you won’t find anywhere else in Billings Montana.  Please visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com for booking.

Thursday, April 30, 2015


It’s heating up around here and that means we’re gearing up to head for the mountains this spring and summer.  Reports are coming in that roads are opening up, giving us easy access to beautiful mountains for spring engagement sessions.  I can’t wait to get up to East and West Rosebud to see what the winter has left behind for us.  This photo is from Melissa and Jeremey’s beautiful wedding at Emerald Lake, West Rosebud that was featured in Montana Bride Magazine.  I can’t get enough of this area of the Beartooth mountains and will scout the area several times to prepare for a season of shooting up there.  I am so grateful to be able to call this beautiful land my home and spend the summer documenting mountain love stories!

I am Montana wedding photographer Paul Bellinger and I photograph mountain weddings and destination weddings of all shapes and sizes, from the mountains to the beaches.  I specialize in dramatic, fine art wedding photography that is worthy of being called your first family heirloom.  I am located in Billings Montana and available for any wedding destination.  It would be my honor to photograph your wedding.  www.paulbellinger.com

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I’m excited to offer a modern approach to corporate headshots and business portraits that looks amazing and is very convenient for businesses to upgrade the entire team, including the group photo.  The Rocky Mountain College Enactus team wanted professional portraits and headshots for each member, and a group photo go along with it.  But as any business knows, assembling the whole team in one place is inconvenient and time consuming.  So I took a modern approach and made portraits of each individual conveniently scheduled at their own time and later combined the individual portraits into a group photo. Our theme was based on the Netflix original show “House of Cards,” to make the group look serious, professional, and powerful.  Each team member was posed with the group photo in mind so that we could execute the theme and make a realistic group portrait.  The result is very striking, and very unique for Billings Montana.  Thank you to the RMC Enactus team for thinking outside of the box and entrusting me with your professional portraits.

There are several benefits for businesses that choose to go with this modern approach to their corporate headshots and professional portraits that also produces an outstanding group photo.  First, the photo simply looks better than your typical group photo, as each person is lit perfectly and posed privately without distractions from other group members.  We can even execute a theme, shooting specifically with a group pose in mind (in this case the theme was based on the Netflix original show “House of Cards,” to make the group look powerful). Second, the entire team will have consistent looking portraits, conveying the highest level of professionalism for your business. Third, it’s much faster, as every person in the group doesn’t have to pose perfectly at the exact same time, which requires many takes to get right when everyone is in the same room.  Fourth, it’s very easy to update, if more people are added to the team you don’t have to get everyone together all over again and you can kill two birds with one stone by having the new team members upgrade their individual headshots while also updating the group photo.  If people leave the team it’s easy to remove them from the group photo too.  For more info visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com.

Tips for photographers:

I’ve posted a behind the scenes photo of the lighting setup for this photo on Instagram @PJBellinger and I discussed other lightingtechniques here.  I learned a lot during this shoot, but I feel like the compositing was pretty straightforward.  It’s never going to be easy, but if you know what you’re going for in the final image you can shoot it accordingly.  I knew I wanted a black background, so shooting on black made it easy to blend each individual portrait together and into the background.  Keeping it dark and shadowy also made it easier to hide the sloppiness of my mask edges, which meant I could do the masking quickly.  If the business wanted to be able to put them on any colored background I would need more precise masks and it would be easier with a white or gray background where there is more separation between subject and background. But make sure to get your exposures right, because separating blown highlights from a white background is impossible guesswork. In that sense there is no substitute for good photography in the first place.  This isn’t a perfect execution, as of course the posing could always be better and I was backed into a corner on which poses would work with the overall photo and the theme, even if I felt there were stronger poses for the individual.  But I am happy with the execution of the concept from start to finish.